with all that's new at My-Island-Jamaica, Click Here to subscribe
for my updates and don't miss a thing!
The Dreaded Abeng
The Maroon's Secret Weapon
Sharing Is Caring! Share this awesome content with your friends now.
New! For Authentic Jamaican products, from my very own hands, visit my Etsy store here.
On 'the face' of it, it might appear to be just a well polished old cow horn, but this traditional Jamaican and maroon instrument, among other functions, drove the 'daylight' out of the enemies!
Watch! See the real Jamaica in VIDEOS
Click Here to watch my latest videos on my fun YouTube channel - you'll love it!
Today, as a follow up to the significant events in Jamaica's history, I'll take a quick look at the Jamaican abeng, correction, the Abeng.
But just before, may I suggest that you take a quick look at the maroons? You'll gain a healthy background and so and deeper appreciation of this article.
Go now and return here.
Back now? Ready? Ok.
What Is The Abeng?
Pictured above, the abeng is made from an animal horn, usually from a cow, that is used as a pivotal communication tool by the maroons.
It is blown by putting the lips to a hole on the inner curve side while using the thumb placing, shifting and adjusting the thumb over the tip.
Senior, in her book, Encyclopedia of Jamaican Heritage, explained that the word 'abeng' come from the Twi language of the Akan people of Ghana, and means a musical instrument or horn of an animal.
By the way, here's a historical fact...
Did you know that the majority of the slaves in Jamaica originated from Ghana and the west coast of Africa.
What Is The Abeng Used For?
As I indicated above, the abeng was essentially a communication tool used by the maroons conveying a complex set of codes and information without the understanding of the enemy.
It was used to.
- Send messages to the community (and over great distances)!
And the maroon community knew how to differentiate the tones, pitch and rhythms to understand the message.
Messages included warnings of imminent attack and to evade capture, announcing the birth of baby, or notice on the death of a member, etc.
- Keep in touch during wars
Once sounded, not only does it alert the community, everyone (the warriors, women and even children) knows what to do.
- Drive fear in the enemies!
The plantation owners and colonial authorities knew that the maroons used it as a communication tool, especially during conflicts and uprisings, and so the maroons exploited that by strategically blowing to confuse and cause unease among them, sometimes even causing the soldiers to take flight!
Today, is mainly used in ceremonial activities and on symbolic national occasions. It is also used to alert the community of important events.
Read also: The important dates and events in Jamaica's history
Watch Video! A Maroon Blows The Abeng At Asafu Yard!
On a recent trip to the Charlestown Maroons in Portland, I captured this video of a symbolic blowing of the abeng.
Click the PLAY button to watch.
The history and culture of the maroons is fascinating! I suggest you take a trip to one of the communities to experience it firsthand.
I also suggest that you read my article, a review really, on the Charles Town Maroons. A wonderful, insightful and educational trip. You can find the article here.
Other Pages Related To The Abeng
- "Celebration Of Jamaica's Heritage", Jamaica Gleaner, http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/art-leisure/20180304/celebration-jamaicas-heritage, Published Sunday March 4, 2018, Accessed March 7, 2020
- Senior, Olive, Encyclopedia of Jamaican Heritage, 2003
- Black, Clinton V. History Of Jamaica, 2005
- "The Abeng", Wikipedia.org, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abeng, Accessed March 7, 2020
- Simpson, Joanne, M. Why Heritage, "A Guide To The Importance Of Our Jamaican
- "The Maroons and the Abeng", Jamaican Information Service, https://jis.gov.jm/information/get-the-facts/the-maroons-and-the-abeng/, Published January 4, 2017, Accessed March 7, 2020
- JIS, "Freedom Road"
- Sherlock, Phillip & Bennett, Hazel, "The Story Of The Jamaican People", Ian Randle Publishers, 1998
Sharing IS Caring... Its now YOUR turn to...
If you found this page useful, please consider subscribing to my weekly newsletter, My Island Jamaica Digest here.
Back To The Top Of This Page
It tells you each week about the new information that I have added, including new developments and great stories from lovers of Jamaica!
New! Talk To Me
Was the information helpful? Something needs changing? I welcome your feedback here.
Recommended For You ...
Other Great Articles You Might Have Missed
Please help me get the message out by sharing this article with your friends on social media (links below). Thnx ;-)
Also connect with My-Island-Jamaica.com on Social Media:
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
P.S. Didn't find exactly what you were looking for? Still need help?
Click Here to try our dependable and effective Site Search tool. It works!
Or, simply click here and here, to browse my library of over 500 questions and answers! Chances are someone already asked (and got an answer to) your question.
Back To The Top Of This Page
About The Author
A patriotic Jamaican who adore its culture, Wellesley has been using this medium to share what he calls 'the uniqueness of Jamaica with the world' since April 2007.
To date, he serves over 9,300 unique readers / viewers per day.
efforts have earned this site featured positions in local publications,
including the Jamaica Gleaner's Hospitality Jamaica, Carlong Publishers,
as well as recognition from numerous prestigious international agencies
and universities. Read more about him here.
He invites you to subscribe to this site to stay updated on all the latest and check out his unique Jamaican products on his Etsy store.
If you are on social media, here are the links to follow his latest posts
You are also invited to join his exclusive JAMHearts community where like-minded Jamaican enthusiasts discuss all things Jamaican.